"Stuckinna." That's a Marshall-ism. As in TV sitcom producer Garry Marshall, who started out as a writer for The Odd Couple
series and went on to mega-success as creator/producer of Happy Days
, The Odd Couple
, Perfect Strangers
and other shows.
He used to say that when he was low on ideas for Oscar and Felix, he'd do a storyline called a "stuckinna." Oscar and Felix stuck in a busted subway car. Later, Laverne and Shirley stuck in a weight-loss camp with nothing to eat. Balki and "Cousin" stuck in a sleeping bag. Every time he needed it, Marshall said, the "stuckinna" device was a goldmine for laughs.
Lately, I feel like I'm living in a stuckinna. Stuckinna rut. See some theater, write about it all weekend. (And here's the latest column
, if you're interested.)
Get up Monday and rush around before teaching the film class. Drive, drive, drive. Try to carve out some hours at Starbucks to work on book chapters. Try not to get depressed about looking at old chapters and thinking they're not funny/sexy/provocative enough.
Same faces at the gym. Same roll of fat not going away around my midsection. Same intentions to eat steamed veggies for dinner and somehow grabbing the bag of fishsticks out of the freezer instead.
For diversion, Professor Lunch Guy when he's in town, which isn't much these days. MySpace, looking up people I used to know (how did every liberal hippie I went to school with in the 1970s turn into an O'Reilly-loving Republican?). BBC America's Shipwrecked
series (supermodel-pretty boys and girl do Survivor
without the dumb "challenges"). Laundry on Tuesdays. Grocery store on Wednesdays. Lunch at Celebrity Cafe in Highland Park Village on Thursdays.
I see the same people in the same places all the time. At the gym, the schizophrenic lady who wears the headscarf to keep out the voices, keeps coming up to me in the dressing room and shouting "Don't let the monkeys jump on the bed!" I assure her I won't. But the next day, there she is again. Damn monkeys! Damn it, lady, tell those monkeys to fuck off or just let them jump on the damn bed!
My baristas at the Starbucks in Old Town know me so well I don't even have to speak the order anymore. It's ready before I get to the counter.
Which is why a great night at the theater can work like such a tonic. Kitchen Dog's production of Fat Pig
by Neil Labute is freakin' phenomenal. More about it in my Observer
writings this week, but here's a brief plot synopsis: A good-looking guy falls in love with a chubby woman. She's everything and the bag of chips (and not the baked kind), as far as he's concerned. But his friends rag him for dating a "beast." He crumbles under peer pressure and dumps the sweet, supersized gal.
On the way out of the theater, I heard another critic opine that "nothing like that would ever happen if he really thought he loved her." Oh, really? Oh, REALLY? Honey, I've lived it. More than once.
But that was a rut I refused to get stuck in. Now it's love me, love my "squishiness," as the Lunch Guy once dubbed it. And if you don't love it, you can just stick it.
What was it Auntie Mame said? Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.
I won't starve myself for a man, but late I seem to be starved for excitement fer sher. Got to get unbored and take me a big bite of life. But how? (Don't say skydiving--did that one already.)
Any other suggestions? Post them in comments. Best one, as judged by yours truly, gets a thrilling goody from the prize closet. Creativity will be rewarded, y'all!